Monday, November 14, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 14.11.16

SPANISH LIFE/CULTURE

Global Warming: According to Oxfam, Spain will have to invest half a billion euros into fighting global warming in the next two years to meet its existing pledges. Assuming one takes these seriously, of course. So far, says Oxfam, Spain has been 'negligent'. More on this here.

SPANISH POLITICS

Podemos: The leader of this newish 'far-left' party is upset at suggestions that there are parallels between his populist approach and that of Donald Trump. As if we needed to be told, Trump is a fascist, as far as he's concerned. But, then, everyone's political enemy is 'a fascist' in Spain. Whether they're on the Right of the Left.

THE EU

Fear: Those in charge - none of them elected, of course - are reported to be terrified that the next demonstration of popular aversion to their elitist political dream will be in Italy. See Don Quijones on this here. Others feel that the presidential elections in France next year will see the next bombshell. See below for an article on this.

ELSEWHERE

The US Election: In line with the view that it's now time to start looking on the funny side of things, I offer you:-
  1. Here's a collection of cartoons around the Trump campaign.
  2. Reflect a while on the vainglorious Nigel Farage bestriding the Atlantic like a colossus, and riding for a fall.
  3. See this video of the insane Michelle Bachman claiming it was her prayer meeting which brought about the Trump victory.
  4. Read anything at all by US evangelists about how God wanted Trump in the White House.
  5. Ponder on the thought that the unhinged Sarah Palin might be in the new US government, giving us hours of fun, as she struggles with the English language. And the disconnect between her brain and her mouth.
  6. Read anything on the election on the RT News web page. Or on anything at all there, really.
  7. This: Silvio Berlusconi has claimed that his career as a mogul-turned-prime minister is a precedent for Donald Trump.
  8. This: No one has anything to fear from me: Donald Trump.
  9. This: I don't wanna hurt them. I don't wanna hurt them. They're good people: Donald Trump.
  10. This: I tell him when I think he's wrong. I think he hears me. And then he does what he wants to do: Mrs Trump.
On second thoughts, you might want to cry at some of these.

The UK: I think I can say one thing with total conviction - The election of Donald Trump will have done nothing for the chances of a republic replacing the British monarchy. I imagine that support for the former has now nosedived.

GALICIAN STUFF

Galician Women (Las Gallegas/As Galegas): These are renowned for being . . . difficult. Perhaps because Galicia has long been a matriarchal society, reflecting the fact that the men frequently went off to sea and died. Or at least never came back. I was reminded of this when reading yesterday that the President's mother had opined that she wanted her first grandchild by him to be called Alberto, like him. And added: "I think they'll take notice of my view". Sounded to me more like a threat than an expression of maternal hope. Anyway, I'm betting on Alberto.

LOCAL STUFF

Amazon Spain: My dash cam is taking a long time to arrive. Checking on progress yesterday, I noted it has a 7inch screen. Or almost 18cm. This seemed large. So I wasn't surprised that it should have been 2.7 inches. Or about 7cm.

FINALLY

The Cat Who Adopted Me: He's very bold and I suspect, from the nocturnal barking, that he torments my neighbour's large dog. But not as bold as he thought he was. This morning I finally traced his squawking to the top of my palm tree. A few hours later, he's still there. Too scared to attempt the descent. Doubtless hunger will drive him down later today.























ARTICLE

Is Le Pen next? European elites need to start listening to the masses – or they too will be Trumped:    Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph.

It is natural that the election of Donald Trump should remind one of Virginia Woolf? In 1923 she gave a lecture in Cambridge called “Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown”. She was responding to a point made by Arnold Bennett, perhaps the most commercially successful writer of the age, about the failure of contemporary novelists to represent character adequately. The undercurrent, however, was what Mrs Woolf (who could have represented Britain in the Olympics at snobbery) considered the effrontery of an uneducated, common man such as Bennett in writing novels at all.

Many who opposed Mr Trump – such as President Obama – have accepted democracy’s verdict with good grace, in the interests of America. Others have taken the Woolf line, inveighing against uneducated, common people – the “basket of deplorables” – for their effrontery in rejecting the political establishment. Lashing out in almost comical fury at this mass disobedience, they label the deplorables also as racists and misogynists. This will be familiar to those insolent enough to have voted to restore British independence last June.

America’s democratic desires will, unlike Brexit, be executed swiftly, for good or ill. Its political class learned nothing from Brexit, but there are belated signs of engagement: a professor wrote in the Washington Post of how the “insular” nature of institutions such as his prevented graduates from understanding the less fortunate. The New Yorker, so certain Mr Trump would lose that it never bothered to consider him, or his supporters, as worthy of anything other than insult and ridicule, blathered: “We mistakenly trusted the polls instead of what we saw happening right before our eyes.” Rubbish: they, a self-appointed elite, listened only to people who agreed with them.

Where will the curse of the uneducated, bigoted, disobedient proles strike next? Italy, where Mr Renzi, the prime minister, faces a referendum on his plans to abolish a chamber of the bicameral parliament, is favourite. His opponents, who are multiplying, regard this as anti-democratic, as it would increase the power of the executive; corporate Italy, liking strong government and uninterested in democracy, is right behind it. Mr Renzi could drop his proposals, though it would be a humiliation to a degree that he would probably have to resign. If he loses, that is his fate anyway.

The real focus, however, should be on France, where the presidential elections happen next spring; and on the man most likely to win, Alain Juppé. Polls – for what they are worth – predict he, not Nicolas Sarkozy, will be the centre-right candidate. But they also predict that Marine Le Pen, the Front National leader, will win the first round and face M Juppé in the second. M Juppé must diminish Mme Le Pen’s allure, and ensure he wins handsomely. If he does not, she will gnaw at him through his quinquennat; and unless he can see her off, she may do better than second in 2022.

There is discontent in France with elites far more sulphurous even than in America or Britain. It is partly because François Hollande’s rule has been catastrophic for the economy; and the disaster of the euro, combined with M Hollande’s refusal to make structural reforms, has lifted unemployment to 10.5 per cent and stifled growth. But the economy is only half of it. Thanks not least to the shocking way France treated Muslim immigrants after allowing them in en masse after 1965 – putting them in workers’ barracks in what are now the gruesome suburbs of cities, and forbidding their families to join them until 1978 – France’s substantial Muslim population is largely alienated and poor, and its youth prone to radicalisation. This is rich territory for the Front National.

One of M Juppé’s priorities must be to promise to tackle the causes of Muslim alienation, something successive regimes have utterly failed to do. In working out how to improve the economy and lower racial tensions, M Juppé must talk to, and understand the views of, his electorate – not just the club of colleagues, think tanks, plutocrats and tame journalists who share his views and background. He has the additional difficulty that about half of his electorate (including Mme Le Pen) feel the EU forces objectionable policies on France – especially on freedom of movement and through a currency that cannot be devalued to reflect the weakness of France’s economy.

Not until he has their ear can he persuade them that Mme Le Pen’s protectionism is wrong and her policies on Muslims could provoke mass civil disorder. To get it, he may have to promise a showdown with the EU, as Mme Le Pen does. Michel Houellebecq, in his stunning novel Soumission (Submission), published the morning of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, predicted that only by the main parties of Left and Right supporting an Islamist candidate would Mme Le Pen be prevented from winning in 2022. The book was hugely influential, not least because so many French identify with its dystopian view.

If M Juppé wants to stop Mme Le Pen’s inexorable rise, and arrest the wave of western populism, he must grasp the mindset of voters angry about the present and pessimistic about the future. Tens of millions of Europeans already perceive the EU as out-of-touch, corrupt, incompetent, anti-democratic and existing largely to benefit those who run it and their useful idiots in various elites. Not all of the disaffected are brainless bigots: they have simply seen how life is for those whom the elites rarely comprehend. They want representatives who will hear them: that was the point of democracy. 

Whether the continental earthquake starts in France or Italy hardly matters. Soon, unless democracy is abandoned, Europe’s politicians will be forced to acknowledge the feelings of an increasing number of voters, and stop listening exclusively to the narrow-minded and self-serving cliques to the exclusion of all others – or share the fate of Hillary Clinton and David Cameron. 

Incidentally, critics and academics now praise Arnold Bennett for his fictional depictions of the real lives of ordinary people. Elites are not always right.             

[I think Bennett is a terrific novelist, btw. Never read any of Mrs Woolf's stuff]

3 comments:

Alfred B. Mittington said...


President Alberto?? Of what country, please??

Colin Davies said...

Erm . . . Galicia. The section is headed: GALICIAN STUFF.

Give the plonk a rest for an hour or two . . .

Colin Davies said...

You know, this guy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Núñez_Feijóo

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